Nicholas Sulzbach – Independent Project

Nicholas Sulzbach – Independent Project

Class of 2017

Introduction to Topic

For my fourth and final year of the Biomedical Sciences Program I based my final capstone project on Environmental Science and Biofiltration. As my high school career has progressed it has become clear that I would like to study environmental science though and help find solutions to environmental problems that may also affect human health. For my innovation, I aimed to solve any problems in the environment or improve any methods already in act.

Project Description

For my project, I started searching for a shadowing experience in the environmental field. I came into contact with Mrs. Ruth Eisenhour through a trip to Harford Glen for an Envirothon event. I then quickly set up a day where I can sit down with her and talk about what was required and how we could achieve them. We then quickly got to work throwing out many ideas including, a miniature aquaponics system for the classroom. After I successfully set up the aquaponics system and shadowed a few of Mrs. Ruth’s classes I decided to become a counselor for two days to get my necessary hours for my project. After my shadowing experience, I was in the greenhouse at Bel Air high school where we have many tank systems. I thought of a new design for Kaldnes Media that increases surface area for more bacteria growth. Which in result will be more efficient in the system.

Experience Description

For my shadowing experience, I spent my time at Harford Glen doing many tasks to further my knowledge of the environment and teach others as well. The first thing I did was create a miniature aquaponics system for a classroom to show how things can be reused and circulate through a system. The system started with a ten-gallon tank with a few goldfish. The water from the tank is then pumped from the tank into a plant tray above the tank where they run down and drain back into the tank. This is a very good model on how fish waste can be beneficial to plants.

Another highlight from my shadowing experience at Harford Glen would be the time that I was able to spend with the fifth graders teaching them about the environment and ways we can help keep it healthy. An interesting lesson that I helped teach to the fifth graders were the Best Management Practices that are used to conserve the earth’s resources. The first part of the lesson was the exposure to vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is the processing of using worms to compost waste into very rich soil. They undergo this process over many months in a vermicomposting bin. The worms live in the bins with a little moisture to keep them from drying up and the consume any natural waste and convert it into soil. The students were given a plate of compost and had to separate the worms from the soil. The worms are then put back into the bin so they can continue making soil. Another cool Best Management Practice was taking the fifth graders out into the forest to remove invasive species. Invasive species can take away all the recourse from the native species making them extinct. We were working to remove Japanese Honey Suckle which wraps itself around trees strangling it to death then growing to the top to take sunlight. Finally, from my experience at Harford Glen one of the classrooms had a turtle pond that has a small biofilter to help clean the water. I found that interesting as it is the same system setup as we have in the greenhouse just on a smaller scale.

Overall I found my experience at Harford Glen very educational and very enjoyable. My secondary shadowing experience was every other day in the Greenhouse at Bel Air High school with Mr. Hedelson shedding his knowledge on environmental science.

Innovation Description

After my shadowing experience at Harford Glen, I reviewed my journals and brainstormed possible ideas that could be used for my innovation. Possible ideas that crossed my mind were a community project to install birdfeeders in the window of hospitals to provide soothing natural entertainment for the guests to have a healthy recovery.

My innovation idea derived from not only my shadowing experience at Harford Glen as well as the daily work in the Bel Air High School Greenhouse that I do with Mr. Hedelson. Within the greenhouse, we have three large systems to raise fish. At Harford Glen, they also have a smaller scale set up of the system filtering water for one of their turtle tanks. The system is broken up into three main parts: Tank, Sump, Biofilter. The tank is where the fish live and grow. The sump is where the solid waste is filtered and kept. The Biofilter then takes the water from the sump and converts it back into water that is not toxic to fish. This is achieved by Nitrosomonas bacteria that grows on small plastic pieces that circulate through the filter. Their job is to convert the ammonia rich water, that came from the fish waste, into Nitrate then to Nitrite. Nitrite does not affect fish and has another helpful use, Nitrite is also a very good plant fertilizer. We have another system that we run that water through a plant bed to grow very successful vegetables. My innovation takes place in the Biofilter. In specific the small pieces of plastic floating around are called Kaldnes Media. Kaldnes Media is a small circular plastic piece that is used for Nitrosomonas bacteria to grow. The kaldnes media is circulated throughout a large cylinder in constant movement by a bubbler. They are constantly moving so that dead bacteria are knocked off so more alive bacteria can grow. The current design for kaldnes media is a circular design with four pegs that meet in the middle. It resembles a small plastic wheel.

For my innovation, I created a design for Kaldnes Media that increases surface area. By increasing surface area in theory more bacteria can grow and therefore the more efficient the Kaldnes Media will be in converting Ammonia into Nitrite. My design of Kaldnes Media involves a square design where one continuous piece goes back and forth. The normal brand of Kaldnes Media has a surface area of 500 millimeter squared. The design that I created is the same size but has 1441 millimeters squared surface area per piece. My design almost three times the surface area of the normal kaldnes media design. Therefor my design in theory should have more room for bacteria to grow and in return increase the efficiency at which Ammonia is converted to Nitrite. I created my kaldnes media design on a 3D creating software program called Fusion 360. I spent many hours figuring out how to operate the software and create my design. After I had finished my final design I exported the file and put it through another program to make sure it was ready to print. After that confirmation, I exported my design and prepared the 3D printer that we have for the Biomedical Sciences Program. After a test printing the design it was determined that my innovation required an adhesive platform in order to keep the print from deforming. After some small tweaking, I finalized my design and printed my first ten pieces of Kaldnes Media. Then, I printed my second batch of Kaldnes Media and was very happy on how they turned out as they were firm but also a little flexible.

After I had printed my Kaldnes Media I needed to create an experimental design to test how effective my design of Kaldnes Media compared to the normal design. My experimental design started with the simple problem of, will my design of Kaldnes Media be more successful in treating high levels of ammonia than the normal design. Then I predicted the solution of the experiment where my hypothesis was that my design will lower ammonia levels in a shorter amount of time than the normal design. My independent variable was the design of the Kaldnes Media and my dependent variable was the ammonia level present in the water. I then did background research; my innovation relies solely on the ammonifying bacteria that have the ability to convert Ammonia to Nitrite. Within the Biofilter the bacteria are housed on small pieces of plastic where they grow and move around from a bubbler. These bacteria are referred to as Nitrosomonas europaea and they use electrons from ammonia’s nitrogen atom to produce energy and grow(Home). The Nitrosomonas grow on small plastic piece called Kaldnes Media. The common design of Kaldnes is a circular piece with spokes in the middle and has an approximate surface area of 500 millimeters squared (Kaldnes). It is important for the kaldnes to be moving around within the biofilter because as the old bacteria die they are bumped off and provide room for new bacteria to grow. Ammonia can also be harmful to humans as well. If high levels of ammonia are inhaled can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction. If high levels of ammonia are exposed to the skin can cause serious injury and burns. (Department). So, it is import to keep ammonia levels down in general as it can cause serious effects to the human body. After my background research was completed, I then created a list of materials needed to run my experiment. These materials included two .5 gallon tanks, a bubbler, 2 air lines, 2 air stones, 20 pieces of normal Kaldnes media design, 20 pieces of my Kaldnes media design, 1 gallon of distilled water, 1 gallon of ammonia rich water, Bacteria supplement, Ammonia test kit, and Tin foil. After addressing my only safety concern of not consuming the ammonia rich water or chemical used to test the water. My control variable would be the normal design of Kaldnes Media. My procedure for the experiment was simple, and was set up in the back of Mr. Hedelson’s room. First thing I did was set a bucket of tap water out so it would distill over the next 24 hours. The reason that the water must be set out and distilled is because the tap water contains chlorine that is very toxic to aquatic life at any dosage. An experience that I was exposed to this year during one of my Environmental Science with Mr. Hedelson involved this concept where a hose was accidently left in a tank overnight. When he arrived the next day, the tank was overflowed and all the fish as well as the bacteria in the Biofilter were killed. The tank was crystal clear as all the algae had been killed as well. So, the way to eliminate chlorine from the tap water is simply setting the water out for 24 hours and the chlorine evaporates out from the water where it is then safe to use. When I returned the following day, I covered the two tanks with tin foil as sunlight was create algae growth that would result in raising levels of ammonia. After covering the tanks in tin foil, I created a lid for both of the tanks to prevent sunlight from going in the top. Then, I added the distilled water and the kaldnes designs into two separate tanks. The control tank for my experiment would be the normal design of Kaldnes Media. I will use the data gathered from that tank and compare it to the data or the other tank the has my new design for Kaldnes Media in it. Then, I plugged in the bubbler and put the air stones into each tank to keep the Kaldnes Media moving and knocking off the dead bacteria. Air stones are simply the ends of the bubblers that create the oxygen in the water. Next, I added the Bacteria Supplement that would attach to the Kaldnes Media and convert the Ammonia to Nitrite. The Bacteria supplement is actually a high dosage of as Nitrosomonas europaea. After a day of allowing the as Nitrosomonas europaea to attach to the Kaldnes I emptied the distilled water out and added some Ammonia rich water. I got the Ammonia rich water from the Bel Air High School Greenhouse in a large goldfish tank. The goldfish tank did not have any type of biofilter in it so the Ammonia level had risen quite high, the only reason that the goldfish survived were due to their such high tolerance to chemicals. After I added the water I tested the amount of Ammonia at the beginning of the experiment to be 8 parts per million.  The next thing to do was wait for the Nitrosomonas to do their job. I tested the water every two to three days for a month. After ten days, the level of ammonia in my Kaldnes design tank dropped from 8 parts per million to 7.9 parts per million. The normal design of kaldnes media took 4 extra days to drop to 7.9 parts per million. Then, at day 18 of the experiment my design of kaldnes media lowered to 7.8 parts per million while the normal design did not drop to 7.8 parts per million till day 32. On day 38 and my final day of my experiment my design of kaldnes media had dropped to 7.7 parts per million while the normal design of kaldnes media stayed at 7.8 parts per million. For the conclusion of my experiment I stated that, the hypothesis was correct is saying my design will lower the levels of ammonia in a shorter amount of time than the normal design. The summary of my experiment was very clear with over a month of data. The results clearly showed that my design was lowering ammonia levels at a faster rate than that of the control tank. Therefore by increasing the surface area of Kaldnes media as I did in my design I increased the productiveness in lowering ammonia levels. It would be possible to run multiple trials of the experiment to clarify they are truly productive.

For each piece of my design for kaldnes media to print it takes about two grams of plastic. The average price for one spool of The Ultimaker 3D printer plastic is $50.00 for .75 kg of plastic. So, with one spool of plastic I can create 375 pieces of my design of Kaldnes Media. The product cost of making a single piece of Kaldnes is 14 cents. For a 25-liter bag of Kaldnes Media I would need 84 pieces of Kaldnes media. Therefore the cost of manufacturing a 25-liter bag of my product would be $11.76. The closest competitor’s kaldnes media has a surface area at 500 millimeters squared and sells their Kaldnes media at $73.00 per 25-liter bag. Therefore, I could sell my bags at $50.00 per 25-liter bag and come away with a $38-dollar profit for each bag.

My innovation of a new more productive design of Kaldnes Media took up a great amount of time for me to research, design, construct, test, and evaluate. With almost three times larger surface area than the normal Kaldnes Media design, I predicted it would be more efficient that the normal Kaldnes Media design in converting Ammonia to Nitrite. After creating my design and refining it to be printed, I could test it through my experimental design. The results were clear that showed my design was more effective in converting Ammonia to Nitrite. Finally, after I knew my innovation was effective I ran through the economic side of my product. Costing only about $12-dollars to manufacture my product I knew that I was a possibility to sell it to get a good profit due to the closest competitor’s price being so high. I am very happy at how successful my innovation was and am looking forward to any future implications my innovation may result.

Project Topic

Introduction to Topic

For my fourth and final year of the Biomedical Sciences Program I based my final capstone project on Environmental Science and Biofiltration. As my high school career has progressed it has become clear that I would like to study environmental science though and help find solutions to environmental problems that may also affect human health. For my innovation, I aimed to solve any problems in the environment or improve any methods already in act.

Project Overview

Project Description

For my project, I started searching for a shadowing experience in the environmental field. I came into contact with Mrs. Ruth Eisenhour through a trip to Harford Glen for an Envirothon event. I then quickly set up a day where I can sit down with her and talk about what was required and how we could achieve them. We then quickly got to work throwing out many ideas including, a miniature aquaponics system for the classroom. After I successfully set up the aquaponics system and shadowed a few of Mrs. Ruth’s classes I decided to become a counselor for two days to get my necessary hours for my project. After my shadowing experience, I was in the greenhouse at Bel Air high school where we have many tank systems. I thought of a new design for Kaldnes Media that increases surface area for more bacteria growth. Which in result will be more efficient in the system.

Experience

Experience Description

For my shadowing experience, I spent my time at Harford Glen doing many tasks to further my knowledge of the environment and teach others as well. The first thing I did was create a miniature aquaponics system for a classroom to show how things can be reused and circulate through a system. The system started with a ten-gallon tank with a few goldfish. The water from the tank is then pumped from the tank into a plant tray above the tank where they run down and drain back into the tank. This is a very good model on how fish waste can be beneficial to plants.

Another highlight from my shadowing experience at Harford Glen would be the time that I was able to spend with the fifth graders teaching them about the environment and ways we can help keep it healthy. An interesting lesson that I helped teach to the fifth graders were the Best Management Practices that are used to conserve the earth’s resources. The first part of the lesson was the exposure to vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is the processing of using worms to compost waste into very rich soil. They undergo this process over many months in a vermicomposting bin. The worms live in the bins with a little moisture to keep them from drying up and the consume any natural waste and convert it into soil. The students were given a plate of compost and had to separate the worms from the soil. The worms are then put back into the bin so they can continue making soil. Another cool Best Management Practice was taking the fifth graders out into the forest to remove invasive species. Invasive species can take away all the recourse from the native species making them extinct. We were working to remove Japanese Honey Suckle which wraps itself around trees strangling it to death then growing to the top to take sunlight. Finally, from my experience at Harford Glen one of the classrooms had a turtle pond that has a small biofilter to help clean the water. I found that interesting as it is the same system setup as we have in the greenhouse just on a smaller scale.

Overall I found my experience at Harford Glen very educational and very enjoyable. My secondary shadowing experience was every other day in the Greenhouse at Bel Air High school with Mr. Hedelson shedding his knowledge on environmental science.

Innovation

Innovation Description

After my shadowing experience at Harford Glen, I reviewed my journals and brainstormed possible ideas that could be used for my innovation. Possible ideas that crossed my mind were a community project to install birdfeeders in the window of hospitals to provide soothing natural entertainment for the guests to have a healthy recovery.

My innovation idea derived from not only my shadowing experience at Harford Glen as well as the daily work in the Bel Air High School Greenhouse that I do with Mr. Hedelson. Within the greenhouse, we have three large systems to raise fish. At Harford Glen, they also have a smaller scale set up of the system filtering water for one of their turtle tanks. The system is broken up into three main parts: Tank, Sump, Biofilter. The tank is where the fish live and grow. The sump is where the solid waste is filtered and kept. The Biofilter then takes the water from the sump and converts it back into water that is not toxic to fish. This is achieved by Nitrosomonas bacteria that grows on small plastic pieces that circulate through the filter. Their job is to convert the ammonia rich water, that came from the fish waste, into Nitrate then to Nitrite. Nitrite does not affect fish and has another helpful use, Nitrite is also a very good plant fertilizer. We have another system that we run that water through a plant bed to grow very successful vegetables. My innovation takes place in the Biofilter. In specific the small pieces of plastic floating around are called Kaldnes Media. Kaldnes Media is a small circular plastic piece that is used for Nitrosomonas bacteria to grow. The kaldnes media is circulated throughout a large cylinder in constant movement by a bubbler. They are constantly moving so that dead bacteria are knocked off so more alive bacteria can grow. The current design for kaldnes media is a circular design with four pegs that meet in the middle. It resembles a small plastic wheel.

For my innovation, I created a design for Kaldnes Media that increases surface area. By increasing surface area in theory more bacteria can grow and therefore the more efficient the Kaldnes Media will be in converting Ammonia into Nitrite. My design of Kaldnes Media involves a square design where one continuous piece goes back and forth. The normal brand of Kaldnes Media has a surface area of 500 millimeter squared. The design that I created is the same size but has 1441 millimeters squared surface area per piece. My design almost three times the surface area of the normal kaldnes media design. Therefor my design in theory should have more room for bacteria to grow and in return increase the efficiency at which Ammonia is converted to Nitrite. I created my kaldnes media design on a 3D creating software program called Fusion 360. I spent many hours figuring out how to operate the software and create my design. After I had finished my final design I exported the file and put it through another program to make sure it was ready to print. After that confirmation, I exported my design and prepared the 3D printer that we have for the Biomedical Sciences Program. After a test printing the design it was determined that my innovation required an adhesive platform in order to keep the print from deforming. After some small tweaking, I finalized my design and printed my first ten pieces of Kaldnes Media. Then, I printed my second batch of Kaldnes Media and was very happy on how they turned out as they were firm but also a little flexible.

After I had printed my Kaldnes Media I needed to create an experimental design to test how effective my design of Kaldnes Media compared to the normal design. My experimental design started with the simple problem of, will my design of Kaldnes Media be more successful in treating high levels of ammonia than the normal design. Then I predicted the solution of the experiment where my hypothesis was that my design will lower ammonia levels in a shorter amount of time than the normal design. My independent variable was the design of the Kaldnes Media and my dependent variable was the ammonia level present in the water. I then did background research; my innovation relies solely on the ammonifying bacteria that have the ability to convert Ammonia to Nitrite. Within the Biofilter the bacteria are housed on small pieces of plastic where they grow and move around from a bubbler. These bacteria are referred to as Nitrosomonas europaea and they use electrons from ammonia’s nitrogen atom to produce energy and grow(Home). The Nitrosomonas grow on small plastic piece called Kaldnes Media. The common design of Kaldnes is a circular piece with spokes in the middle and has an approximate surface area of 500 millimeters squared (Kaldnes). It is important for the kaldnes to be moving around within the biofilter because as the old bacteria die they are bumped off and provide room for new bacteria to grow. Ammonia can also be harmful to humans as well. If high levels of ammonia are inhaled can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction. If high levels of ammonia are exposed to the skin can cause serious injury and burns. (Department). So, it is import to keep ammonia levels down in general as it can cause serious effects to the human body. After my background research was completed, I then created a list of materials needed to run my experiment. These materials included two .5 gallon tanks, a bubbler, 2 air lines, 2 air stones, 20 pieces of normal Kaldnes media design, 20 pieces of my Kaldnes media design, 1 gallon of distilled water, 1 gallon of ammonia rich water, Bacteria supplement, Ammonia test kit, and Tin foil. After addressing my only safety concern of not consuming the ammonia rich water or chemical used to test the water. My control variable would be the normal design of Kaldnes Media. My procedure for the experiment was simple, and was set up in the back of Mr. Hedelson’s room. First thing I did was set a bucket of tap water out so it would distill over the next 24 hours. The reason that the water must be set out and distilled is because the tap water contains chlorine that is very toxic to aquatic life at any dosage. An experience that I was exposed to this year during one of my Environmental Science with Mr. Hedelson involved this concept where a hose was accidently left in a tank overnight. When he arrived the next day, the tank was overflowed and all the fish as well as the bacteria in the Biofilter were killed. The tank was crystal clear as all the algae had been killed as well. So, the way to eliminate chlorine from the tap water is simply setting the water out for 24 hours and the chlorine evaporates out from the water where it is then safe to use. When I returned the following day, I covered the two tanks with tin foil as sunlight was create algae growth that would result in raising levels of ammonia. After covering the tanks in tin foil, I created a lid for both of the tanks to prevent sunlight from going in the top. Then, I added the distilled water and the kaldnes designs into two separate tanks. The control tank for my experiment would be the normal design of Kaldnes Media. I will use the data gathered from that tank and compare it to the data or the other tank the has my new design for Kaldnes Media in it. Then, I plugged in the bubbler and put the air stones into each tank to keep the Kaldnes Media moving and knocking off the dead bacteria. Air stones are simply the ends of the bubblers that create the oxygen in the water. Next, I added the Bacteria Supplement that would attach to the Kaldnes Media and convert the Ammonia to Nitrite. The Bacteria supplement is actually a high dosage of as Nitrosomonas europaea. After a day of allowing the as Nitrosomonas europaea to attach to the Kaldnes I emptied the distilled water out and added some Ammonia rich water. I got the Ammonia rich water from the Bel Air High School Greenhouse in a large goldfish tank. The goldfish tank did not have any type of biofilter in it so the Ammonia level had risen quite high, the only reason that the goldfish survived were due to their such high tolerance to chemicals. After I added the water I tested the amount of Ammonia at the beginning of the experiment to be 8 parts per million.  The next thing to do was wait for the Nitrosomonas to do their job. I tested the water every two to three days for a month. After ten days, the level of ammonia in my Kaldnes design tank dropped from 8 parts per million to 7.9 parts per million. The normal design of kaldnes media took 4 extra days to drop to 7.9 parts per million. Then, at day 18 of the experiment my design of kaldnes media lowered to 7.8 parts per million while the normal design did not drop to 7.8 parts per million till day 32. On day 38 and my final day of my experiment my design of kaldnes media had dropped to 7.7 parts per million while the normal design of kaldnes media stayed at 7.8 parts per million. For the conclusion of my experiment I stated that, the hypothesis was correct is saying my design will lower the levels of ammonia in a shorter amount of time than the normal design. The summary of my experiment was very clear with over a month of data. The results clearly showed that my design was lowering ammonia levels at a faster rate than that of the control tank. Therefore by increasing the surface area of Kaldnes media as I did in my design I increased the productiveness in lowering ammonia levels. It would be possible to run multiple trials of the experiment to clarify they are truly productive.

For each piece of my design for kaldnes media to print it takes about two grams of plastic. The average price for one spool of The Ultimaker 3D printer plastic is $50.00 for .75 kg of plastic. So, with one spool of plastic I can create 375 pieces of my design of Kaldnes Media. The product cost of making a single piece of Kaldnes is 14 cents. For a 25-liter bag of Kaldnes Media I would need 84 pieces of Kaldnes media. Therefore the cost of manufacturing a 25-liter bag of my product would be $11.76. The closest competitor’s kaldnes media has a surface area at 500 millimeters squared and sells their Kaldnes media at $73.00 per 25-liter bag. Therefore, I could sell my bags at $50.00 per 25-liter bag and come away with a $38-dollar profit for each bag.

My innovation of a new more productive design of Kaldnes Media took up a great amount of time for me to research, design, construct, test, and evaluate. With almost three times larger surface area than the normal Kaldnes Media design, I predicted it would be more efficient that the normal Kaldnes Media design in converting Ammonia to Nitrite. After creating my design and refining it to be printed, I could test it through my experimental design. The results were clear that showed my design was more effective in converting Ammonia to Nitrite. Finally, after I knew my innovation was effective I ran through the economic side of my product. Costing only about $12-dollars to manufacture my product I knew that I was a possibility to sell it to get a good profit due to the closest competitor’s price being so high. I am very happy at how successful my innovation was and am looking forward to any future implications my innovation may result.

By | 2017-05-12T04:13:53+00:00 May 12th, 2017|Biomed Capstone Project 2017|0 Comments

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